Ceres, Goddess Atop Montpelier's Golden Dome, Removed As $2M Renovation Begins

Apr 2, 2018

The 14-foot goddess of Agriculture was removed from the top of the Statehouse dome by crane Monday as the first step of a $2 million renovation campaign.

Dozens gathered as two cranes - one to slowly lift Ceres off the top of the dome, the other supporting two workers - delicately unbolting the 80-year-old statue from atop the Statehouse.

Gov. Phil Scott, among those safely on the ground, checked in with Statehouse Curator David Schutz about how everything was going.

The removal of the statue is part of a $2 million renovation campaign for the top of the Statehouse.

Two cranes were used to lift the 14-foot statue from where she'd weathered 80 years. She'll now be dried out and moved a block away to the Vermont Historical Society Museum.
Credit Bob Kinzel / VPR

The gold leaf on the Dome is beginning to peel and there are several places where water is leaking through the dome into the Statehouse attic.

Schutz says the hope is the work can be completed in the next six months.

Scott: "I think it does highlight how bad the dome actually is at this point. If nothing else it does emphasize the need to move forward on that."

Schutz: "It's very much in need of repainting and re-gilding and happily we're going to provide that this year." The main crane gently begins lifting the statue off of its wooden base and very slowly the figure of Ceres glided over the Statehouse, landing in a nearby parking lot.

Seeing the 14-foot statue firmly on Earth has been something Schutz has been thinking about for a long time:

"I don't have nerves but I'm definitely emotional," he said Monday, "and that statue's been up there a long, long time. I was looking up at her just last week realizing that her time was coming. She has seen a lot of history, everything since 1938 that has taken place in front of the Statehouse. And that's a great deal. That's a lot."

Gov. Phil Scott and David Schutz watch as Ceres is lifted from atop the Statehouse dome.
Credit Bob Kinzel / VPR

Once in the parking lot, Schutz inspects the base: It was as rotten as he suspected it would be.

And as a result, Schutz says it won't be going back to the top of the dome. A new one will be carved this summer.

"Clearly we're doing the right thing bringing her down so she can dry out," he explained. "And what's left of the inside, which is where the rot is fairly extensive, can be allowed to dry."

For now, the dome will look a little... empty.
Credit Bob Kinzel / VPR

Once repaired, Schutz says the statue of Ceres will have a permanent home at the Vermont Historical Society Museum - just a block from the Statehouse.

A fitting place, Schutz says, for an important piece of Vermont history.